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I've found myself playing games through OnLive quite a bit over the last week. Mostly this was due to the Halloween specials that landed me full access to Dawn of War 2 for $1 and free three day rentals of Metro 2033, Orcs Must Die, and Darksiders. Having spent more than a thirty minute demo with the service, I've decided that I'm okay with it. But there are some arguements against OnLive that I feel I have to adress for the purpose of self validation.
First, I've done cloud gaming before. I had a lifetime subscription to Gametap and I was a big supporter of Instant Action when it was still live. And I'm probably not the only person here that's ever wasted time on Kongregate. The idea of playing single player games online is nothing new to me and that probably has a lot to do with my attitude toward OnLive. The biggest problem with all of these services, for me at least, was that the libraries of games were fairly weak and had no stand-out titles. But the internet is full of dickishness and hate. So onward!!
The main thing I want to adress is the idea that OnLive is the most opressive form of DRM ever devised. If this is the case, then it has to be the least annoying and intrusive DRM ever created. There's no CD Key to enter. There's not maleware that gets installed on you computer. Your executable file and CPU serial number don't have to be validated by some remote server. Hell, the game doesn't even install or patch. You just log in under one account, go to the games that you have access to, either through subscription or rental, and play the damn game. It's basically the same deal that you have when you rent a console game from a local video store or stream a movie from Netflix.
But that right there is the problem, so say the detractors. You don't OWN the games. Which is absolutely true. But let me ask you something: When's the last time you BOUGHT a movie? You see, you don't own the movies that you watch on cable or rent from a video store and that doesn't bother you. You don't own the games tha you rent from Gamefly or the above mentioned video store and that doesn't bother you. You don't own the books that you check out of the library and that doesn't bother you. So why should renting games through an online streaming service bother you?
If we're being completely honest with ourselves, we can admit that the rental system works pretty damn well for most single player games. For instance, I've played and completed every single Halo game by renting them over dedicated weekends. As a result, I've been able to enjoy that series for far less money that I would have spent had I bought the games new OR used. I don't have to bitch about games costing too much, because I only pay for the games when I feel like playing them, and then only pay what I feel that time is worth. By cutting out the idea of ownership, I actually maximize the amount of entertainment that I can squeeze out of my gaming dollar.
"Okay," you say, "but isn't it a bit much to FORCE people to be online to play single player games?" Don't worry, I've got this one covered too.
MMO players spend about $15 a month to play games that they have to be connected to internet in order to play. You'd be hard pressed to find an MMO player that didn't spend several hours in any given week playing solo. This is especially true in heavily instanced games where dungeons can be geared to specific party sizes and character levels. These players pay a monthly subscription to a game that they do not own, must be connected to the internet in order to play, and spend the majority of their time playing solo. Sure, they can chat with friends while they play, but you can do that with any game provided that you have a good VOIP app. Onlive has that chat functionality built in and still allows you play multiplayer in the games that support it. The only real difference between World of Warcraft and the OnLive version of Borderlands is the fact that your OnLive friends can watch you play before joining in and your WoW guildmates have to find you, or be teleported, first.
So basically, the DRM/ownership argument is complete horseshit. You aren't likely to pick up a single player game after you've beaten it once, so paying full price for that experience is beyond retarded. Likewise, you're going to take the rental option every single time if you just want to play through the game one good time. If the game is so good that you think you might want to keep it, there are other options for purchasing and owning the game (Steam, Direct2Drive, Impulse, etc.). OnLive is not the gaming anti-christ. If anything, Onlive lowers the barrier to entry, allows you try games before you buy them, and makes our hobby cost one hell of a lot less. And if you aren't some elitist douchebag that wants to put velvet ropes around the hobby, I doubt that you can see the advantages as a bad thing.